In The Whispering Muse, the first person narrator is “Valdimar Haraldsson”, who is something of a pompous ass who has spent his life obsessed with the connection between fish and the superiority of Nordic Culture, and was the publisher of an obscure publication on that subject.
This is a quite clever, modern take on the knight’s quest of an Arthurian legend, with more than a nod in the direction of Monty Python And The Holy Grail. The setting might be Medieval, but Phillips’ writing style is modern, and so are the ideas of the characters.
The fictional and sci-fi worlds created by Iain Banks/Iain M. Banks are complex, vast, often complete with new languages, peoples, philosophies, and geographies. Reading Banks is not so much sitting down with a few pages, but days of concentrated immersion.
Winters is an accomplished writer, producing a polished narrative, original imagery and an unconventional approach to end-of-days scenarios. Through neat turns of phrase and unusually prescient observations, Winters paints a restrained picture of the coming end of the world.
Terry Pratchett gave the world the gift of his imagining, Discworld and his many other creations, and he exited this world graciously, trying to the last to do good. More so the pity then, that I did not enjoy his collaboration with Stephen Baxter in “The Long Earth” half as much as any of his solo novels.
Miéville’s magnum opus, “Perdido Street Station”, is a magnificent tour de force of imagination, a grand experience in which the reader’s reality gets sublimated into the complete, fantastically detailed, spell-binding world of New Crobuzon and its inhabitants.
On the surface of it, this novel is about two cities, Besźel and Ul Qoma, existing right beside each other, divided by a line, actual and imaginary. A murder takes place in Besźel, and a detective, Tyador Borlú, is tasked with “crossing over” and solving the mystery.
This book is so different that it is not possible to pigeonhole it into a genre. Its subject is both depressing and relevant; desperately poor Nigerians living in a slum, with a spirit-being as a child. It is both astoundingly creative and deeply sobering.